Enrichment process

Taking out the trash: with an AK-47

Just over a year ago I wrote my first story for The Conversation. I was frustrated by media reporting of the Libyan Revolution; coverage that I felt did little to explain the fractured nature of the opposition and the political mechanisms Gaddafi used to divide his people. In later articles on Libya I expressed concern for the volume of heavy weaponry that was now held by the gaggle of neighbourhood militias.

Twelve months down the track these problems are just as pronounced. In an excellent article in The Washington Post, Steve Hendrix highlights the deadly serious nature of providing basic social services in Libya. Even garbage collection has the potential for a shoot-out and traffic is directed by gestures from a gun barrel. Gang violence and looting are a daily occurrence in Tripoli.

Unemployment, disenfranchisement and a sense that nothing has really improved frustrate Libyans, many of whom had not looked beyond the ousting of Gaddafi as an ultimate goal. Particularly amongst those who did take up arms and risk their lives, the feeling is that they have somehow lost out on the Revolution.

And as Libya begins to descend into factionalism and turf wars, the concerning question must be asked: Does it risk becoming a failed state?